Presentation Day is one of the most exciting days for us and for our clients. It’s the day where all of our hard work as interior designers comes together and we get to showcase it to our clients with the hopes they’ll love it.

But what’s one thing that can throw off the excitement of the design presentation day and what follows? An unprepared client!

In this episode, I walk you through the handful of proven steps that will help you ensure that both you and your clients are prepared for design Presentation Day and coming into it with the right expectations and mindset. I share some of my mistakes and the nitty-gritty details you need to impart to fully support your clients so that presentation day will go off without a hitch!

Keeping things clear, concise, and without surprises will allow your clients to feel safe and secure as well as keep chaos far away as you move from project to project.


Listen to Episode 29 – What I’ve learned about presentations


This episode is sponsored by Devix Kitchens

Read the Full Transcript ⬇️

Hey, hey, hey, it’s Rebecca and you’re listening to Resilient by Design.

[00:00:05] Today I’m diving into presentations, but more specifically, I want to share with you exactly how you can prepare your clients for the future. For a presentation day, this episode is a shorty, so I’m going to just dive into the key things that we do. I highly recommend you try to prepare your clients for presentation day.

[00:00:24] It’s going to ensure you have a more successful presentation. It’s going to ensure you’re more likely to get a yes. At the presentation, you’re more likely for those clients to sign off. You’re more likely for them to bring a check. These are the things that I do inside my interior design business. And in fact, We just did a presentation yesterday that was a huge hit.

[00:00:50] I’m not going to lie. Of course, there are a couple of revisions, but in general, it went so smoothly, and in reflection, it’s because we do such a good job now of preparing our clients so they know exactly what to expect on the day of the presentation. So here we go. How do you prepare your client for presentation day?

[00:01:07] It’s exciting. Maybe you’ve never done this before and you’re like really intrigued by this idea of having clients showing them everything, laying it out on the table, and presenting pictures on a big TV screen. When I started in this industry, I have to tell you, this was not a thing. This didn’t really exist.

[00:01:24] It was maybe some of the bigger commercial firms that did this. I didn’t know any designers until I started to learn about it from one person and another. And people were starting to experiment with doing this inside their business. Fast forward to, I eventually incorporated it into my business.

[00:01:42] It. did not look when I first started like it does today. And so what I mean by that is if you’ve never done a presentation before, don’t worry about getting it perfect. Don’t worry about making it like the be-all and end-all where the client signs off and says yes and everything is perfect and you capture every detail.

[00:02:00] Just start. Truthfully, it’s progress over perfection. You guys know I say this all the time, but it’s true. In my first few presentations, some parts of them were wins. Other parts of them were total fails. I started to learn by trial and error with every presentation. You know, one, I was like 200, 000 over budget.

[00:02:17] I know. Don’t even ask. One of them, I expected my team and I thought that they had it and instead, we all ended up staying in the studio till one o’clock the night before the presentation. One of them, the client came in and was like this isn’t at all what I asked for. Like, you name it, it’s happened to me.

[00:02:34] And so with every single time, I’ve learned and I’ve taken something from that learning and I’ve put it into our process. And what is so important about having a process that you follow is that every time you just make it better. So instead of reinventing the wheel with every presentation, we literally pull out our, Checklist.

[00:02:53] All right, we’re gearing up for presentation. Let’s pull up our checklist team and let’s go through it, let’s assign individual tasks to people on the team. When is it going to be done? What needs to happen so that we are ready to go for the presentation and nothing gets missed? And then after that presentation, we’ll have a debrief and be like, huh, what didn’t work?

[00:03:13] Where do we screw up? What do we want to tweak or change? There’s always something. You don’t get it on paper or in digital format. Then every time you go to do it, you’re gonna forget something. You just are. It’s like having a to-do list. If you don’t reference that to-do list and you just leave it up to your brain, you’re probably going to miss something.

[00:03:31] Don’t leave it up to chance. Also, get that crap out of your head and onto paper or in a Google Docs so that somebody can come on board with you and help you, whether it’s a virtual assistant, whether it is. you know, a junior designer. It could even be an intern. It could be an office manager. It could be anybody who you want to help you.

[00:03:52] If you have it on paper, they don’t need to read your mind. When I first started hiring, I fell into that trap that most [00:04:00] entrepreneurs do when they’ve never hired before and they’re nervous about money. Cause like, let’s face it, you’re not really making a lot of it, but your expenses are low. So you think, okay, like I can probably afford to hire and I can charge up to my client and blah, blah, blah.

[00:04:12] I would get so frustrated with my interns, and my junior designers because they weren’t taking the next step to move the project forward or taking initiative. And I thought I was just making bad decisions in hiring. But actually, in hindsight, I wasn’t setting them up for success. They didn’t know what I needed them to get ready for the presentation.

[00:04:32] We were kind of inventing it as we went along. And I would get frustrated that they didn’t know. that I wanted it done a certain way. But in reflection, I hadn’t actually outlined how I wanted them to do the thing. So that’s why having a process for every step in running a project is so key. And today I want to really talk about clients because that’s what we do this for.

[00:04:52] That’s why we’re here. We’re not just here to serve our own ego. And okay, I guess a little bit we want to make beautiful spaces because it’s so damn satisfying, especially when you see that pretty picture that you’ve hired a professional to take. And if you haven’t done it yet, you’ll get it. There and you see it and it looks amazing.

[00:05:07] And maybe you get it in a magazine. It’s like, Oh, that feels amazing. But ultimately we only exist because clients are willing to hire us. So we need to give them the most incredible experience. So, in order to prepare your client, I have a list of things that we do that I’m going to share with you now. If you’re walking or driving, just listen to this episode.

[00:05:24] You may want to go back. It is a shorty so it won’t take long. I’ll like dive right in and you’re probably going to want to take notes because these are some of the things that we do. Prepare our clients with or for so that presentation day runs smoothly.

[00:05:38] So we’ve done everything. The team is ready to go when we are about. 80 to 90 percent ready, meaning we’ve done most of our selections, most of our plans have been created in AutoCAD, any elevations, we started pricing things, and we know that we are 80 to 90 percent ready to show our clients. That is when we reach [00:06:00] out to our client.

[00:06:01] I’ve made the mistake of booking a presentation date the day they hired me. Okay, this is great. It’s January 1. Okay. That’s not ever going to be January one cause that’s a holiday. So let’s get real, Rebecca. It’s January 15th. Let’s say we want three months to pull together the design before we do our presentation.

[00:06:18] And we’ve got all of our processes in place internally. So we know what we need to do in those three months. All of our checklists are ready. We don’t tell the client we’re going to present April 15th. Why? Well, life shit happens. You might get another big project or the project you thought was going to be finished, isn’t finished, or maybe your designer quits, or maybe you get sick or maybe, maybe there are a million and one things that could go wrong.

[00:06:47] I made the mistake of saying this is the presentation date and then scrambling and being super stressed to try and make it work. I don’t do that anymore. I will tell them a rough outline. I will say, typically it takes us three to four months. I mean, based on the scope of the project, it could be four to five weeks, depending on what size of the project you’re working I used to say four to six weeks.

[00:07:07] Oh, so funny. Little young Rebecca thought that she could design a whole house in four weeks while also doing other projects. Like, I had no, I had the worst sense of timing and how long it took me to do things. Wow. Anyways, let’s say we think it’s three to four months. We’ll let them know. It’s typically about three to four months.

[00:07:22] So we’re looking at probably mid to late April, maybe into May, but we will let you know closer to the time because it’s too early for us to solidify a date. Great. So you’re working along, you’re designing, and now it is time to book that with the client. So tip number one, email the client and let them know that you will be ready to present as of a certain date and ask them for their availability in those weeks.

[00:07:48] Or you could give them some available dates that already work for you. That’s typically what we would do because we want to eliminate a lot of that back and forth. So we’ll say, listen, as of April 9th, we’re going to be ready to [00:08:00] present your beautiful home to you. We’d love to find a day and time that works for you to come into our studio.

[00:08:06] So you solidify what day and time that is going to be, and then you send them number two, you send them a calendar invite. I never used to do this, and I would always get clients phoning or emailing saying, are we still on for tomorrow? Is the presentation still happening? And I would think to myself, but I’ve sent them all the emails.

[00:08:23] The only way to get ahead of that was to do a calendar invite. We’ve created a template so that it looks the same for every single presentation and we have all the right information in there, but send them a calendar invite. The next thing you want to do is you want to email them after you’ve confirmed the date, but before the presentation to let them know what to expect.

[00:08:44] And this is where I’m going to really dive in. So this is the third thing, and this is the biggest thing. Send them what to expect. We have a PDF. This is something I walk you guys through inside power of process. You can get my PDFs. I have these what-to-expect documents. I share them inside the course, but essentially, you guys can create your own, it’s not something you need to take the course for, but it is something that you have.

[00:09:05] It’s a branded, beautiful Canva PDF. To be honest, when I first started, I don’t even think Canva existed. I just like PDF Word documents. And it was good enough. Now we make it a little bit prettier, but essentially it is a visual one-pager. I try to keep everything to one page and it walks them through.

[00:09:22] Here’s what you can expect on presentation day. Here’s how to prepare. Here’s what’s going to happen on the day. And then here’s what’s going to happen after. This has been a game changer because it lets clients know exactly What’s coming at them. Because most of the time these clients have never done this before.

[00:09:37] It’s pretty rare that I work with a client who has worked with another designer who also did presentations. It’s more likely that I work with someone who worked with a designer who did things kind of willy-nilly, higgly Piggly the way I used to work. And they’re always blown away by how organized we are because we have a process.

[00:09:55] Inside that what to expect document, you want to include things such as [00:10:00] the address of where you’re meeting. I mean, it should be in the calendar invite, but still, you could also link this what-to-expect PDF to that calendar invite. If you want to take that extra technical step, don’t assume clients read them.

[00:10:11] And so that’s going to be my step number four or point number four. But first of all, if they do read it, this is what you want to include. Where are they going to park when they come? So the address of where they’re coming in the time, where do they park? I know, we always had challenges with parking because before the pandemic, this building was just packed full of offices, packed full of people.

[00:10:29] And so sometimes they had to park in the lot across the street. the street, which is for the church, but we actually have like a reciprocal agreement. So like little things like that, let them know there’s a parking lot behind the building. If you can’t find a spot, worst case scenario, you can park at the church lot across the street, give them that information, let them know how long they can expect to be at your office or at the studio space, or at the boardroom that you’ve rented.

[00:10:52] Let them know. And if you’re doing the presentation at their home, which is fine to start, then let them know how long to expect. There’s nothing worse than them thinking it’s going to be an hour. And it actually takes you three and a half, four hours. So let them know. And we always overestimate the time and try to under, I was going to say under deliver, but that’s not the right word.

[00:11:11] We try to do it in less. Also, let them know if there’s going to be food and drinks. So. It’s up to you if you want to do this. I mean, definitely, light refreshments are recommended, but we also do say, you know, let us know if you have any food allergies. Sometimes we have snacks, depending on the time of day, we might have different nibbles, might have granola bars, or things that people can eat without having to sit with a fork and knife.

[00:11:33] Or I’ve heard of designers asking for their Starbucks order, like, Hey, if you know that there are Starbucks lovers or, you know, Tim Hortons up here in Canada or something like that, then maybe ask what their order is, send out an assistant or do Uber eats to deliver their coffee order. It’s going to make them really feel like they’re at home.

[00:11:51] Also let them know that this is going to be a focused session. It’s best not to bring the kids or if it’s in their house, you know, get babysitting, it’s [00:12:00] best if the kids aren’t their pets, like, is there a dog walker coming in? Like try to eliminate distractions. I think that’s really, really important. In the same way, you would also let them know for a consultation, which we also have what to expect for consultations, and then let them know what happens after.

[00:12:15] I like to let them know what they’ll be taking home with them. Everybody is different because we do not let them take samples home. We do not let them take fabric memos. We let them take lots of pictures if they want, but we do let them know that they will be getting a folder with the printed presentation, like our Google slide presentation, as well as the proposal.

[00:12:34] So they will have that to take home and review after the fact. We let them know that they’ll be able to touch and feel all of the samples so they can kind of get an idea of what it’s going to be like. And then we let them know that. After the presentation, what our policy is for revisions, all of that, I like to put into one document because then you can use it for every project that’s already created.

[00:12:55] And then if you do want to customize it a little bit, you could go in and change the timeframe or you could create a document that doesn’t need to be customized and any custom information’s in the email. What I do like to do is pull out the key information and put it in the body of the email. Because, like I said before, when I was diving into number three, not everyone’s going to read your attachments, no matter how beautiful they are.

[00:13:17] I still think it’s worth doing because I think it makes you look professional, but it’s important to put in the body of your email The key points, which would be how long they’re expected to be there, where they can park and any conversation around food. I think those are the three key important points to hone in, on in the email last, but not least number five, you need to make sure your client is aware of what happens after the presentation.

[00:13:43] What is your revision plan? I talk about this in power of process all the time. You need to repeat information early and often. That’s how you set the client’s expectations so that there are no surprises. Too often in the early years of my business, clients were constantly surprised by me [00:14:00] and honestly, it made me always feel crappy.

[00:14:03] Like it made me feel grumpy and crappy and irritated. And they’d be like, Oh, we didn’t know this thing. And I’d be like, well, obviously that, or I’m pretty sure I told them this. Right? You guys know what I’m talking about? So I like to let them know. I talk about revisions when we meet at the consultation.

[00:14:20] I talk about revisions, heck, in the discovery call. I talk about revisions when we do our concept review with them. And then we remind them of the revisions policy in the email, even though it’s also in the PDF. And then at the presentation. You’re going to talk about what your revisions policy looks like, because what happens sometimes we get so focused on the presentation and we’ve got so many beautiful things to show and we’re so talented and we’re so excited and nervous and, oh, I hope the budget’s there and all those things, but then we kind of overlook the revisions and then sometimes that’s where things can derail and you can start to lose money by your time being sucked away by doing more revisions than really are in your contract, but you haven’t talked a lot about it.

[00:15:03] So there you have it. Those are five things that I have found really helpful in preparing our clients for presentations so that they run smoothly, that they’re effective. Obviously, there’s so much more to presentations. We share our full checklists and we talk about all of that inside power of process.

[00:15:19] If you guys are curious and want to find out a little bit more about the course, it is currently open for enrollment. Come and join us. I’m really excited. It’s six, Weeks, six intense weeks to just totally transform your business, and find a new way of doing things so that you don’t feel the chaos of running from project to project.

[00:15:37] This is just an example of one little system that you could implement in your business to make your life so much freaking easier. Anyhow, I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. Let me know what else you want to learn about presentations because I can do some more episodes like this. See you soon.